Attention business majors: somewhere out there is a book that tells you exactly how to rise in the ranks of the business world without really trying—but you’ll have to get it from a J. Pierrepont Finch, first.
The Penn State Thespians put on four productions of the musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying this past weekend in the Schwab Auditorium. The show told the story of how Finch (played by Mike Weakland) rose from the World Wide Wickets mail room to well, almost every other position, eventually landing at Vice President of Advertising.
Using his wit and handy book, he climbs the corporate ladder and faces some mishaps and clashes with fellow employees in between—and also finds love with secretary Rosemary Pilkington, played by Morgan Sichler.
Many aspects of the show, other than pure talent, stood out to make the story pop. Setting the scene with early 60s office attire and movable sets, the characters themselves were memorable. Just to name a few, Bud Frump (played by Andrew Adamietz), the nephew of boss J.B. Biggley (Connor McElwee) and who was always interfering with Finch’s plans for success (and when his own plans didn’t work, just called his mother) was just right amount of maniacal and comical.
And Hedy LaRue (played by Monica Mazel) was the, er, voluptuous secretary that turned all the men of the office into horndogs (and was Biggley’s gal on the side) and eventually dug Finch’s advertising campaign, and the company, into a hole.
While some have ambitions to work in an office and rise to be a corporate star, we may not be able to relate that aspect of the story yet, but the songs gave a more relatable aspect to the show.
After all, who can say they haven’t had anxiety and gotten twitchy when they weren’t able to get their coffee that day? And some of those lucky enough can relate to that new tingly feeling when they’re in love, like Finch and Rosemary in “Rosemary” and trying to flirt like in “Been a Long Day.”
The songs gave opportunity to some complex and creative choreography. Some showstoppers included “A Secretary is Not a Toy,” which was a tap number, “Coffee Break” and “Brotherhood of Man.”
These songs are part of the reason some students came to the show. Lindsay D’Aiuto, freshman, saw a Facebook posting for the show and says she liked the musical aspect of the performance and thought it would be funny. Her friend Lauren Hall, freshman, on the other hand, had seen a production before.
“It’s different seeing college kids doing [the production],” she says, partially because some songs were cut in the high school version she saw.
“I’ve seen her in smaller things, but I’m excited to see in a real role,” she says. “I think it should be really good.”
There were lessons to be learned from the show and overall the story and the songs made for a fun way to spend an evening.
Photos by Sophia Hubler